On Wednesday, I sat through the LURC Commissioners’ meeting in Bangor. My primary interest was to hear former senator Peter Mills’ explanation of LD1504, An Act to Provide Predictable Benefits to Maine Communities That Host Wind Energy Developments. Hoping to hear a detailed explanation of the new statute delivered to and dissected by the commissioners, I went away disappointed. Instead there was a short explanation of the bill’s history, a brief discussion of a single item within the statute, and a healthy dose of fawning over the bill’s authors, identified by Mills as wind industry representatives and the Natural Resource Council of Maine’s Pete Didisheim – perhaps, the most exuberant promoters of mountaintop wind development in the state.
To his credit, on a peripherally related subject, Mills did suggest that it might be inappropriate to use TIFs to help finance wind developers’ projects. I’ve heard the same sentiment from other legislators with whom I’ve communicated. They’re right. It’s an egregious misuse of this program that shifts a financial burden to non-participating towns to help finance an already heavily subsidized industry. Finally, the veil is being lifted on the abuse of TIFs by the wind industry and their governmental partners.
However, Mills stated clearly to the commissioners that he and his colleagues in the 123rd Legislature made the decision of “sacrificing our mountaintops” as a contribution to the “greater good.” His follow up bill, LD1504, set the price tag for that sacrifice. According to Mills, the wind industry and the NRCM “negotiated” this price. There you have it; Maine’s mountaintops sold, or “sacrificed,” for an ambiguous greater good – no firm evidence that any real good would be accomplished was required or revealed in the legislation – at a price set by the most avid promoters of mountaintop wind development in Maine. Hear the audio transcripts yourself at LURC’s website. I’d like to thank Peter Mills for finally making this crystal clear publicly. I realize now how Maine government actually works and for whom it works. Neither the wind industry nor the NRCM represents my interests. I’m beginning to wonder who does.